The Exile – The Countess visit Longbourn

The Exile2 Blog Tour Banner[1412]Welcome back dear readers! It has been a while! I got NEWS!

I’m pleased to announce that Don Jacobson has a new book written and published, the next in the line of the Wardrobe story. I wonder what everyone will think of the new book, I personally loved it!

I will let you, dear readers go on now, Don has graciously let us read a blurb from his book, and further down in this blog there is an excerpt too. Warning, long blog entry, so I hope you can manage.

“I have been shaped by the events of over forty years. The world is a nasty place full of awful persons, Mr Wickham, and does not get any lighter through complaining or blaming.”

The Countess: An Enigma? A Mystery? Or a young girl all-grown-up?

Kitty Bennet, the fourth daughter of the Master and Mistress of Longbourn, had spent far too long as the shadow of her youngest sister. The all-knowing Meryton chinwaggers suggested that young Miss Bennet needed education—and quickly.

How right they were…but the type of instruction Kitty Bennet received, and the where/when in which she matriculated was far beyond their ken. For they knew nothing of that remarkable piece of furniture which had been part of the lives of clan Bennet for over 120 years: The Bennet Wardrobe.

Forty-six years from when she left her Papa’s bookroom, the Dowager Countess of Matlock returned to that exact same moment in 1811 to tend to many important pieces of Family business.

In the process, Kitty Fitzwilliam helped her youngest sister find the love she craved with the hero who, as the Duke said, “saved us all.”

“Who can resist the magic of time-travel? Pages of worldwide history rustle back and forth between Regency grand salons, Napoleonic battlefields and more recent conflicts as, guided by Don Jacobson’s masterful pen, the Bennet sisters grow as people and come into their own. ‘The Countess Visits Longbourn’ is a wonderful new instalment, and we cannot fail to revel in the excellent writing and the abundance of detail as the mysteries of the Wardrobe continue to unfold. This captivating series, that brings together real and much-loved fictional characters from all walks of life, is one to savour, and I will revisit it again and again.” – Joana Starnes, author of Miss Darcy’s Companion

And now, dear readers, I hope you desperately want to get your hands on the book, therefore I will let you read what I think of the book, through my review.

My Review of the book;

This book, the fifth in the row, takes place when Kitty or Lady Kate is 63 years old and returns to Longbourn after some odd fifty years away. Now she must assure that her father takes the appropriate steps to preserve her version of the future, secure who the Keeper of the Wardrobe will be and make sure that the remaining Bennet sister will find her way to happiness.

From peaceful Deauville to war-torn Europe, we follow how steps are taken to protect the Bennet’s and the Wardrobe against the change of time, the evil which will use it for their own purposes and even Bennet’s who aren’t ready for their time to learn.

I was very pleased with Don’s next piece of the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series, and small plot holes I had noticed in the earlier books was filled with the information you are given in this book, including how Lydia and Wickham became so very devoted to each other, and how steps are taken which will lead Wickham to become a new man and Lydia to become the powerful and strong Countess of Matlock.

Much laughter and yet sadness was presented in this book, as many of the characters from earlier books had begun their next great adventure. A new sense of Lydia, as a grown up and sensible woman started to emerge, which I find to my liking, as it would be another character who Don would make me like for the first time. Furthermore, old enemies appear as the book draws to a close, remember back to “The Exile” and then it will make sense.

I do suggest a handkerchief for the ending though since I did cry a bit as it was tragic and yet sweet in its own way.

All in all, another masterpiece to the puzzle which is the Wardrobe series. I can only congratulate Don on yet another wonderful book and hope to see the next one soon.

The Exile2 Final Full Cover 012418 wobld M[1414]

Dear readers, Don is very generous and have allowed us all a peek into his wonderful book!! Imagine that! Don gave me carte blanche to edit in the chapter, we have been allowed to read, but I couldn’t get myself to cut or edit anything in it so, without further ado – I give you: Chapter XXIII

This excerpt is © 2018 by Donald P. Jacobson. Any reproduction without the expressed written consent of the creator of this work is expressly prohibited. Published in the United States of America.

This excerpt introduces the reader to Miss Laura Jenkinson, the spinster sister-in-law of Mrs Jenkinson of Rosings Park. She has been tasked by young Mr Hunters of Wilson and Hunters, the Bennet family’s London solicitors, to retrieve Mrs Lydia Wickham from Newcastle on Tyne.

Chapter XXIII

Oakham House, London, January 2, 1812

Lydia Wickham allowed her natural exuberance to overtake her as she raced off, leaving her companion behind on the stairway leading up to the second floor of the modest red brick townhouse. She burst through the doorway to her chamber and threw herself onto the plush feather bed, a burble of excited laughter escaping her lips. In utter glee, she made an “angel” on the cloud-like satin coverlet, kicking her legs apart to swiftly bring them back together again to click the heels of her street shoes together.

Shopping did that to her—especially when she had nobody to control her purse strings. Gloves and bonnets, stockings and small clothes, day dresses and evening gowns—lace and ribbons bedecking them all—were among the greatest enjoyments she could imagine. Never in all of my life have I been fortunate enough to be set free…to bring my custom and taste to the modistes and milliners of London with carte blanche. And their faces when this stranger started ordering goods like Georgiana Darcy!
E-e-e-e-e-e-e!!!!!!
She kicked her heels on the bed and literally wriggled, feeling every square inch of her youthful body tingle with excitement and—yes—pleasure.

Until

“Mrs Wickham!”

There in the doorway stood Miss Jenkinson, Lydia’s companion: a lady just turned spinster, dark-haired, and of medium build.

Laura Jenkinson, to be fair, was older only in comparison to Mrs Wickham. The sister of a deceased clergyman, Miss J (as she preferred to be styled) had been forced to earn her way—much like her late brother’s wife—when the grippe took off her two nieces and much older brother. Unlike his widow, who was employed as a young lady’s companion down in Kent, she had been saddened but not scarred by the horrible events now three years behind her. Her natural spirit had not been crushed to the point of utter compliance in all matters of her life. Her other “deficiencies” bore more powerfully upon her current situation.

Although still in her mid-twenties, she was now “on the shelf.” The term “poor as church mice” definitely applied to her family. Her Papa’s parish had been short on glebe and tithe, barely providing enough of a living for them. The question of any dowry to be settled upon her was laughable. Even before her brother’s decease, she had considered trying her fortunes in America. Then came the grim weeks in January 1809. Her brother’s patron allowed the two bereaved ladies to continue to live on his estate in a tenant’s cottage until a late spring fever carried him away.

His protection did not extend past the grave. The Jenkinson ladies resolved to abandon their sinecure when the estate’s new master, a son rarely seen on the land in recent years, roughly abused Laura when he came upon her walking just days after she had shifted from deep mourning into her now customary grey. There was no loss of virtue, but the sense of security with which she had lived her entire life fled like clouds before a North Sea gale roaring in over the Northumbrian cliffs!

Thus began her pilgrimage that lasted some months until she had entered the service of the Hunters’ family, caring for Mrs Frederick Hunters as she declined in the months before her death.

Now she was on—how did young Mr Hunters put it? Ah, yes, she was on retainer, paid a monthly stipend, to serve the needs of the firm and family. And, so she did, from her base here in Oakham House, a property held in blind trust and managed by Wilson and Hunters. When not on firm business, Miss J was under strict instructions to “live the life of a lady of a particular age with some, but not bountiful, means.” The red brick townhouse, appointed with imported woodwork, was pleasant, but not ostentatious, and comfortable, without speaking of any resources that would attract a fortune hunter.

Looking now at the young “lady” bouncing on the bedstead, all Miss Jenkinson could do was shake her head. Of all the little “projects” that had been laid before her, Lydia Wickham posed the most unique set of challenges.

Here was a girl, one who should still have been in the schoolroom, now married for over a third of a year. She seemed to be without any social restrictions, always ready for enjoyment, always searching for the next bit of excitement. She surely would have profited from another twelve-month in the schoolroom.

The schoolroom—that was Miss Jenkinson’s other “deficiency.” She was a bit of a bluestocking…actually a lot of a bluestocking…enough to deter most men.

Ahhh, the schoolroom, mused Miss J, God help me, but I loved it so. Papa and Charles, of course, had their bookroom and their Oxford friends, but I had my sanctuary filled with books and maps where Miss Wallace showed me the wonders of the Classics—Homer and all of the Greeks, of course—but then the geniuses of Roman times! How the Latin rolled in my mouth! Greek was so elemental, almost primitive at times. But, Latin? Oh, what elegance to repeat the speeches of Cicero—ones that moved the Plains of Jupiter when the citizens gathered to elect their leaders! Or old Seneca when he contemplated morality and mortality!

Her lot was keeping Lydia Wickham in check until Mr Hunters could more fully explain the purpose behind bringing a soldier’s wife completely across the country—nearly 300 miles—all the way from Newcastle on Tyne. But, reining in the child’s inner hedonist—yes, Lydia Wickham was nothing if not about self-pleasure—was proving to be quite a task indeed. Laura had followed her instructions to the letter. She had been tasked to escort the girl on shopping excursions in Town, quiet now as those who could escape to their estates for the holidays were long-gone from their normal haunts. Others, the highest reaches of the ton who usually preferred to stay closer to Kensington and Carlton, had, perforce, travelled to Northamptonshire at the behest of the Marquess of Salisbury for the Cecil Twelfth Night Ball.

The reduction in customers, albeit traditional, had, none-the-less, left those toiling in the London fashion world somewhat—Miss J smiled as she punned—at loose ends. Lydia Wickham swept in like a late-season storm rolling up the Thames Estuary. The accounts opened on her behalf by the firm only stipulated that all purchases needed to be delivered to Oakham House no later than the morning of January the Third.

With only emergency purchases to be sent to Burghley House or one of the other Cecil estates housing the Marquess’ guests, there were ample seamstresses and milliners’ apprentices to ply their trade on behalf of Mrs Wickham.

Since their arrival at the front portico of Oakham House six days ago, Lydia often had strained the limits of propriety, tending to exhibit behaviour more often ascribed to members of the climbing class. Her sense of dignity was stunted. She would dash around, not mindlessly but rather with a purpose, modiste showrooms. These temples of fashion, usually only open to the wealthiest members of the First Circle, were now in the reach of the impoverished wife of a minor officer because of the golden web that led from the Wilson and Hunters offices in Lincoln’s Inn.

Yet, she did not show any awareness that she acted contrary to society’s expectations of ‘proper behaviour.’ Lydia Wickham was demanding, to be sure, but only in that, she was almost monomaniacal in expressing her desires. She placed every sense and sentiment that passed through her mind in front of the entire world. She held nothing back.

Nor was she a calculating and malicious shrew. Miss J had seen those, tall, thin, beturbaned women who dressed in garish colours, looking down what they assumed to be fashionably long noses at the world about them. They would profess astonishment at those who did not act in accordance with their copybook expectations of social norms—all the better to elevate themselves in a world determined to isolate and exclude interlopers.

Lydia Wickham wanted nothing more than to enjoy herself and to be surrounded by those who acted as she did. Still a child in so many ways, she had not been shaped by Town behaviour. Instead, when she had only been young Lydia Bennet, she frolicked through the fields of her life in bucolic Hertfordshire. And, while it may have shocked many of her oft-dowdy sorority, Miss J found much to admire in the gusto with which Mrs Wickham embraced her life.

The older lady did worry that the girl, some ten years younger than she, could not well endure disappointment, though, embracing as she clearly did only half of Marcus Aurelias’ vaunted Roman Stoicism—that pleasure and pain are equal parts of life and needed to be endured in similar measure. Well-meaning or even indolent adults had shielded Lydia from nearly every instructive blow.

Yet, the time for philosophizing would be later. Miss J needed to take Mrs Wickham in hand immediately: gently if possible, brusquely if not.

She firmly repeated herself, “ Mrs Wickham! Enough of this hoydenish behaviour! If you wish to be taken seriously by society, if you wish to reflect credit upon your family, you must learn to regulate yourself.”

Lydia sat up and draped her legs over the edge of the bed, swinging her feet to and fro, showing a considerable amount of ankle with each perambulation. A pout pushed her lower lip out as thunderclouds collected above, darkening her remarkable emerald green eyes. Laura slowly moved across the room. She settled on the edge of the bed, turning herself ever so slightly to be able to address the youngster on the same level.

She tried a little sugar to cajole Lydia, “I do understand how exciting working one’s way through the shops can be. I remember the times my Papa would bring us to Town when he waited upon his bishop. I would save up my allowance for an entire quarter just to be able to bring back a bonnet direct from a London milliner, all the better to show my more rusticated friends in the North just how cosmopolitan I, a clergyman’s daughter, could be.”

Lydia bit hard upon the bait dangling before her, “Oh, imagine Maria Lucas’ reaction when I show her my Town clothes! She can put on such airs, you know, just because her father went and got himself knighted.”

Miss J continued, hoping to encourage a bit more charitable reaction upon her charge’s part, “While I am certain Miss Lucas will wish she had the good fortune to have come to the attention of a benefactor as you did, she sounds as though she would wish you joy rather than be jealous. Or, am I mistaken about her?”

While Lydia was one of the most self-centred persons outside of the Prince Regent’s hangers-on, she also had her own code of honour, well-formed and distinct. Once you had been judged her friend, Lydia would defend you from all comers, both familial and foreign!

And Maria Lucas was one whom, she was certain, would return to her former closeness once the unusual nature of Lydia’s marriage to her dear Wickham had dimmed somewhat. Maria was never going to threaten Mrs Wollstonecraft’s bent for scholarship. However, she was a dear creature whose innate sweetness was always a source of comfort to Meryton’s young ladies tossed as they were upon the waves of youthful love and loss.

Lydia recalled the time when Mary had snapped a particularly nasty unkindness at Maria just as the girl was going on about some bit of gossip—or what passed for such given her age and the news’ source—during a morning call at Lucas Lodge. Where moments before had sat her playmate, posing as a grown-up lady preening in front of her own Mama and Lydia’s, was instantly a whirlwind of ribbons and muslin dashing from the room.[i] Lydia had then spent over an hour trying to comfort the distraught girl, long enough to have earned an invitation to luncheon from a grateful Lady Lucas.

However, Lydia did not forget the slight given by her elder sister. A few days after the event, Mary’s window-pane spectacles began mysteriously vanishing—first from the pianoforte—for Mary removed them to read music—and then, later, from the sideboard in the dining room—for Papa had briefly banned their wearing while at the table—and finally from Mary’s monk-like bedchamber. The first two times, the glasses had been located quickly…once laced through the chains holding the weights in the great case clock that dominated the parlour…and later hanging by a piece of yarn above the pigsty. However, the last time her sister’s affectation went wandering, lest Mary somehow mistake the message, they were found propped on the nose of the bust of Julius Caesar that Papa had insisted upon installing in the corner of the west-facing sitting room: the lenses smeared with Cook’s famous strawberry preserves!

Mrs Wickham rearranged her face and sat back before saying in a solemn tone, “Miss J, you do have the right of it. Maria would never begrudge me my happiness. She would ask me if she could borrow one of my gowns if we were off to an Assembly. Then we would join my dear sister Kitty and dance until the musicians packed away their tools.

“There are times I regret leaving that life, you know. I would not trade my dear Wickham for anything, but I miss not having to worry about money. That is why I could not contain myself just now. I do apologize.”

Laura smiled at the contrition that showed yet another facet of the complicated soul that was Lydia Wickham.

She stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of her gown with elegant brushes of her long-fingered hands. Then she began to move from the room, turning to look over her shoulder at the childlike matron, saying, “Perhaps we might gather in the breakfast room for a casual luncheon in, oh, perhaps thirty minutes. That will allow us both some time to freshen ourselves.

“We have one more appointment this afternoon, one for which we cannot be late. You are to meet the person who has taken you into her interest.”

[i] Please see The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey. Ch. XII.

HI, Guys, I know you are likely thinking, How long is this blog entry!? Well, I am nearly done, you just have to scroll down to the GIVEAWAY! Yeah, you read that right, an INTERNATIONAL giveaway, there’s a chance to win a copy of this book! So please bear with me for a few minutes more, thank you.

Author Bio;

Don Jacobson Head Shot[568]

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years. His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio. His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards. He has previously published five books, all non-fiction. In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series—The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series. Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a speciality in American Foreign Relations. As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound. Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty-pound cat, Bear.

And FINALLY, the GIVEAWAY!! I wish everyone good luck in the draw! Click on the link please – and good luck!

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached to the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they, (which will be verified). If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook or Paperback of The Exile: The Countess Visits Longbourn by Don Jacobson. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b21/?

Contact Info:

Website

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Buy Links:  Paperback & Kindle

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Hi Guys, that’s it for this time, but on a side note; Do return in early March, to read about “My Scotland Adventure”! See you!

 

 

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Anticipation of Scotland Adventure

Hi Guys,

I couldn’t help myself but write of the anticipation of my next adventure next month in the Highlands of Scotland, in Edinburgh, along with several friends!
It is a weekend visit, from Friday afternoon to Sunday Evening, and I can hardly wait to meet up with several crazy if wonderful friends!

We are going to see several sights, including a few Harry Potter ones, and also attend the Assembly Regency Ball, which will again be called by Stuart Marsden. On that note, I have bought a 20180205_145438041_iOSnew wonderful regency ball dress for the occasion, it is autumn reddish/brown with gold details. I intend to add either red or black ballerina shoes, black gloves and a fan.

Though what I mostly look forward to, is just to have fun with my friends, as it has been several months since I saw them last, in Bath, during the annual festival. We always have plenty of fun, when we are together. So I do believe we will have fun yet again.

Will I see you there? Do leave word if you are in Edinburgh during the weekend of March 9-11th, and maybe are attend the Assembly Ball.

I will be back soon with my guest, Don Jacobson on the 20th of February, during the book tour of his newest book, “The Exile, The Countess Visits Longbourn”.

Christmas 2017

It is December again! Hasn’t this year just gone by in a flash? I feel like I have just taken down the Christmas tree from last year and now the calendar says 1st of December!

Sorry guys, I haven’t been as active as I have wished the last few weeks, but exam time is coming up on me here in DK. The term paper was passed just last week, and the defence of the exam paper coming up on Wednesday!!! Yeah, I am scared out of my head as it is the first time we are to receive grades!

And since it is Christmas, or well the countdown for Christmas has started, it is also important to know what I am reading, well I am back with an old friend – namely Jane Odiwe’s “Mr Darcy’s Christmas Calendar” – a chapter a day, so it will last the whole of the month. I am looking forward to returning to it and enjoying a good old-fashioned Christmas Calendar like I remember from my childhood. I am always in agony over whether Lizzy will meet Mr Darcy in the end, or will have her own happily ever after! Yeah, I know, I am a sucker for romance! *sigh*

It is also that time of year, where most of us, watch Hallmarks Christmas movies, Love Actually for the Brits among my readers *winks* Am I right? Or maybe the new Christmas movie on Netflix, “A Christmas Prince” or my personal favourite “Beauty and the Beast – The Enchanted Christmas” which always puts me in the Christmas mood.
And the very serious questions; Will it snow this year? Or will it once again disappoint and just be grey and rainy? Though a tradition I am kind of starting or have had for a few years now is attending the ballet, during December and see the classic Christmas tale of “The Nutcracker” It is one of my favourite stories connecting to Christmas, besides “A Christmas Carol” – I am sure everyone is familiar with the tale? “Marley was dead, to begin with, the beginning. There was no doubt about it…” and we all know how it ends, “God bless all of us”
Do any of us have any traditions during December, besides make delicious cookies, sing carols, hope for snow and celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December?
Here in Denmark, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, why … I actually never knew why we are different from the rest of the world in that particular field. But in my family, we wake up on the morning of the 24th, make a delicious breakfast and then eat and unwrap a few gifts in course of the morning, before my mom and I normally attend the Christmas service – and then we come home since we are hosting my grandfather this year. My mother and I normally watch the annually shown Disney Christmas Show, which we have done since I was a small child.

But what a year it has been, all my adventures with my friends, a new start at my university and my travels to Bath, Edinburgh, Berlin… And not to mention that plans are in progress about March, for yet another Regency adventure to old Scotland. Will I see you there?

Mistaken by Jessie Lewis

Mistaken

Welcome Back, dear readers! This time I am hosting Jessie Lewis and her novel, “Mistaken” and without further ado, I give you;

Mistaken By Jessie Lewis

Blurb:

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a single man in possession of a good fortune, a broken heart, and tattered pride. Elizabeth Bennet is a young lady in possession of a superior wit, flawed judgement, and a growing list of unwanted suitors. With a tempestuous acquaintance, the merciless censure of each other’s character, and the unenviable distinction of a failed proposal behind them, they have parted ways on seemingly irreparable terms. Despairing of a felicitous resolution for themselves, they both attend with great energy to rekindling the courtship between Darcy’s friend Mr Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane.

Regrettably, people are predisposed to mistake one another, and rarely can two be so conveniently manoeuvred into love without some manner of misunderstanding arising. Jane, crossed in love once already, is wary of Bingley’s renewed attentions. Mistaking her guardedness for indifference, Bingley is drawn to Elizabeth’s livelier company; rapidly, the defects in their own characters become the least of the impediments to Darcy and Elizabeth’s happiness.

Debut author Jessie Lewis’s “Mistaken” invites us to laugh along with Elizabeth Bennet at the follies, nonsense, whims, and inconsistencies of characters both familiar and new in this witty and romantic take on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.

Review by Sophia Thorsen;

To be honest, this book was damn annoying, for several reasons! One, the readers are continuously thrown around between Darcy, Elizabeth, Bingley, Jane and others – where we get the story from all of their point of views. From Darcy and Elizabeth, it’s as always obvious that they are deeply in love, and love to tease each other! And definitely don’t want to lose each other again, after Elizabeth’s confrontation with blasted Wickham! *eye roll* that man never changes! But then we see it from the other character’s views and you are completely bewildered about what they see, and what you have just read from Elizabeth and Darcy and how the other characters can be so very mistaken – oh yes take heed of that word, dear readers! We also have several men who are interested in Elizabeth, a very drunken song about the Bennet girls, which makes our naive and sweet Bingley decide against Jane, and instead, focus on … guess who, oh yeah guys, Elizabeth!  

Mistaken is a word best used all through the book, from Bingley’s note to Darcy, to Bingley’s intentions towards Jane, Lady Catherine’s nastiness, all cases of “Mistaken”.

On another note, I definitely wanted to kick someone’s a** several times through the book, and it’s none other than a certain Lady Catherine – she’s not only annoying but downright nasty this time around – but then again, when is she not?

The Mistaken notions lead so far, as to turn sweet Jane Bennet into the worst sort of jealous bi*** I have ever experienced before, in a variation. She maligns Lizzy’s name not only in Derbyshire but also in London, side by side with Lady Ashby aka the future Countess Matlock – and therefore Darcy’s cousin’s wife. But it was rather refreshing to see another side to sweet and meek Jane Bingley nee Bennet – that she is actually capable of ruining her close relationship with her beloved sister, all because of mistaken notions and feelings of not being good enough, or as good as Lizzy. Real sibling rivalry, maybe taken a bit too far but otherwise a fresh picture of Jane.  

We also have the mistaken notion of feeling like being led by the nose around the scene, for the longest time, until things begin to clear, to leave a very unsettled picture. A Bingley who wants to leave for Canada, a pissed off Darcy, and a Jane who FINALLY realizes what she has done! Elizabeth is witty, clever and teasing throughout the book, loves with her whole heart which belongs utterly to Darcy – *sigh* so sweet! Love a good romance between Darcy and Elizabeth!  

Jane is not exactly the sweet Jane Bennet, readers are normally used to, but she does turn a leaf at the right time, and the right place, in the book, which delighted this reader beyond measure! We also see Elizabeth as the sister who NEVER losses hope for reconciliation with Jane, and her wish is answered…  *sheepish smiles*  

But the book is also, really humorous, especially a new character Jessie Lewis introduces us to, Mrs Sinclair, Colonel Fitzwilliam’s grandmother, oh she is to die for! She is forthright, says precisely what she means and is downright brilliant! I loved her! Her best comment though was on one of the last pages, “Oh, you have not killed him then? How disappointing. Young men nowadays never seem to want to do anything properly.” I was nearly falling on my face, from laughing that much from that comment alone! Even if the scene was deeply serious! I hope someone doesn’t think I am completely without proper feelings but it was so hilarious!

The book was very well written, a good plot if a little confusing at certain points, it touches on the best parts of Elizabeth Bennet’s personality; witty, clever and teasing I would say, and deeply annoying also, sorry Jessie! But personally, I prefer a plot where we only see the story from two sides, instead of four or more POV’s, as it can get hard to follow the story. But a big round of applause to Jessie for her new book! Congratulations on your first Pride and Prejudice variation! I hope to see another sooner or later!    

Author Bio:

I’ve always loved words—reading them, writing them, and as my friends and family will wearily attest, speaking them. I dabbled in poetry during my angst-ridden teenage years, but it wasn’t until college that I truly came to comprehend the potency of the English language.

That appreciation materialised into something more tangible one dark wintry evening whilst I was making a papier-mâché Octonauts Gup-A (Google it—you’ll be impressed) for my son and watching a rerun of Pride and Prejudice on TV. Fired up by the remembrance of Austen’s genius with words, I dug out my copy of the novel and in short order had been inspired to set my mind to writing in earnest. I began work on a Regency romance based on Austen’s timeless classic, and my debut novel Mistaken is the result.

The Regency period continues to fascinate me, and I spend a good deal of my time cavorting about there in my daydreams, imagining all manner of misadventures. The rest of the time I can be found at home in Hertfordshire, where I live with my husband, two children, and an out-of-tune piano. You can check out my musings on the absurdities of language and life on my blog, Life in Words, or you can drop me a line on Twitter, @JessieWriter or on my Facebook page, Jessie Lewis Author, or on Goodreads, Jessie Lewis.

Buy Links:

Mistaken   (Amazon US)

Mistaken   (Amazon UK)

Mistaken is also available on Kindle Unlimited

Annnnnnnnnd now the giveaway! You know the drill, guys! Read the terms and good luck for winning one copy of this book!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b18/?

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of Mistaken by Jessie Lewis. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

 

And that dear readers are what we authors call FIN. See you soon again! *winks*

Lizzy Meets the Countess

Hello, Dear Readers! Yeah, I know, I have been here quite a lot these last months, but I have read quite a LOT lately! And one of these books, are Don Jacobson’s continuation of his Bennet Wardrobe series, called “Lizzy Meets the Countess” Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess My good friend, Don Jacobson is BACK! With a novella to his successful series of The Bennet Wardrobe.

The universe was shaken once again on Midsummer’s Day in 1801. The Bennet Wardrobe’s door to the future was opened in the bookroom at Longbourn. This time it was the Wittiest of the Bennet’s, 10-year old Lizzy. And voila, a thousand bees buzzed and the pressure built…

And if you are thinking along the same lines as I, I’m pretty sure you are thinking “OH SHIT!”

But Which/Where/When was Lizzy’s destination? What needs could a young girl, only beginning to learn to make her way in the Regency, have that could be answered only by the Wardrobe? Were the requirements of another Bennet, one who began as younger, but had aged into a beautiful, confident leader of Society, be the prime movers behind Lizzy’s journey? Is the enigmatic Lady Kate the force that shaped the destiny of Lizzy and her younger sisters left back in Hertfordshire? How do the visions of the future brought home by young Lizzy help shape her world?

I was very pleasantly surprised that Lizzy appears in Fitzwilliam House, in Edwardian London later, where Henry Fitzwilliam and his Countess are at their Beach House in Deauville and we are introduced to old friends from “The Exile”. Lizzy is put into the details of the time, and what year it is – and acts way beyond her age, which yet again shows what an extraordinary author Don truly is.

Soon we see Fitzwilliam, Robard children and Elizabeth run around the beach in Deauville, while they are watched by a sad Catherine Fitzwilliam, oh yes, that is indeed Kitty, a grown-up Kitty with two children of her own and surrounded by family and friends alike, though separated from her blood family with more than a century. Elizabeth shows an uncanny perception, of where she is, from the very start, like she knows where Longbourn is and always was – and how to get home too, just by that simple thing of following her nose. We are introduced to Deauville House, the house we know from “the Exile” and “the Keeper” as the summer home of Georgiana Darcy’s when she wasn’t busy with her concert schedule. Though Lizzy shows a mind which more belongs to a twenty-something old than a ten-year-old, Kitty is acutely aware that her elder sister cannot stay in her “present” but has to return to her own “present/here/now” to be able to meet her destiny.

Which ends the first part of Lizzy’s adventure… and the novella sadly enough!

Though now the cover, you may wonder about a bit, Don explained about his amazing cover, that he and Janet Taylor, worked closely on;

“For Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess, the strong visual was already in hand—or so it seemed. I had originally been composing a story called The Darcys Meet Frankenstein.  As such, I had already begun focusing on the Villa Diodati where Byron, Godwin, and Shelley had gathered during the summer of 1816. Because Mary Shelley’s immortal Frankenstein began its life as a short story composed at Diodati, the novel has been illustrated countless times. Early on William Purser made an engraving for a fronts piece of an edition. Later Edward Francis Finden made a colourized version of the original print.
The dramatic nighttime vision fired our collective imagination. But, would it actually fit a novella whose focus, while still keeping elements of the mature Elizabeth’s encounters with Mary Godwin, had been shifted to explore the youthful Lizzy’s interaction with the Wardrobe?
We decided that, while one could read the novella as two separate stories, both tales were so interlocked that to consider the Lizzy portion without the Elizabeth segment and vice versa would strip the deeper meaning from both. The visions besetting the adult find their roots in the child—or so Dr. Freud would assert.”

The next part of this amazing, but all too short novella, we all blame you, Don *smiles sheepishly and giggles slightly* takes place in the weird and sad summer of 1816, where the Darcy’s has just lost a baby and are on their much-delayed wedding tour. 1816 was known as The Year without Summer at Lake Geneva, but we find Lord Byron, Shelley, and Godwin all thrown together with the Darcy’s in a villa by the lake.

And if you, dear reader, know just a bit of literature, you’ll recognise those names instantly as famous and well-known literary names in the 19th century, and even today as well, especially Godwin with her immortal “Frankenstein” which she started to pen that very summer. And if Don is to be believed, it was because of Elizabeth Darcy’s depression because of her miscarriage, and her dreams, where the past might actually have shown itself in the form of a red hat with a giant red rose on top.

Mary Godwin shows herself to be a kind and compassionate woman and friend to Elizabeth, and to Darcy also. Darcy goes so far as to call her “the other Mary” since we know that Elizabeth’s younger sister is also called Mary. Lord Byron is shown to be, sorry for being nasty, but a rake and an asshole to use a modern word to characterise him, while Shelley also is shown as a compassionate man, and ultimately ends up married to Mary Godwin.

Don was insisting on the point of explaining the Wardrobe and it’s basics so read along, and see if you understood the mechanics of the wonders of the Bennet Wardrobe;

“The Bennet Wardrobe was created by the master cabinetmaker Grinling Gibbons in the early 1690s for the first Bennet to own Longbourn Estate in Meryton, Mr Christopher Bennet. The Wardrobe is capable of transporting the user to any time in the future where the Wardrobe itself exists. Then the user can return to the exact same moment in the present. However, the portal in time is only open to those who are of the direct blood lineage of Christopher Bennet. Which does, of course, open up a world of possibilities.

 After finishing the first half of The Exile, I was looking ahead to Part 2 of the book (essentially 1932-1944). But, something was nagging at me: the uncharted time sequence between 1892 when Part 1 ended and 1915 when Henry Fitzwilliam’s War had been set to explore the young Viscount’s behaviour toward Kitty Bennet after she arrived through the Wardrobe in 1886.

A “breadcrumb” providentially rose to the surface. I discovered it in a transitional chapter (written in early 2016) in “The Keeper” (Ch. XLII) where Mary is contemplating a letter she received from Lizzy who was travelling in Europe with Darcy. In it, Elizabeth relates a tale about the time they had been spending with another party of British travellers at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland…Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Godwin. And I asked myself, “What would have inspired Mary Godwin’s story Frankenstein: The New Prometheus if it had been written in the Bennet Wardrobe universe during the summer of 1816?”

In our world, her reading of Erasmus Darwin’s Zoönomia (1796) stimulated her creative process. Her own miscarriages and lost babes set the context!

But in the Wardrobe universe, the Darcys were in attendance at the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva that summer of 1816. Might not their attendance at Frankenstein’s birth imply that there had been some influence at the conception? Godwin’s story envisioned the future but did so by placing the gothic tale using the tools of her modern world—the Industrial Revolution—familiar to her listeners and readers.

Who within Godwin’s vicinity had the ability to suggest that or an even deeper future? Only Elizabeth Darcy. But, her trip through the Wardrobe could not have been recent, for what account would Godwin have written if a mature Elizabeth had related a history of a trip to the future as a mature woman? Likely Jules Verne’s The Time Machine.

Fresh memories are too crisp to smudge into gothic horror.

However, the foggy recollections of an adult relating Dreamtime images from her childhood, those fantasies that rise up at the edges of sleep, would provide ample fodder for a novelist.

And that is the root of Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess…a journey to the future taken by ten-year-old Lizzy. There, in 1907, in the company of characters familiar from The Exile, the young girl sees wonderful realities which will become remarkably telling dreams fifteen years later on the shores of Lake Geneva.”

That, dear readers, is the story you will learn in Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess…how Elizabeth Darcy came to dream of an Edwardian future.

Don was so very nice as to allow us a glimpse of “Lizzy Meets the Countess”, if you want to read it. This is the excerpt from Lizzy Bennet Meets the Countess is © 2017 by Donald P. Jacobson

Chapter XVII

After several minutes, Elizabeth broke the silence. She began to speak after leaning forward to stare down at the ground between her feet. She clasped her hands together and rested her forearms on her thighs. Her deep brown eyes were focused upon the ground about ten feet in front of the bench.

“Mary, there is something about the party gathered here that is disquieting.

“T’is neither you nor Mr. Shelley. Truly, if my husband and I had encountered only you two in Lyon, we would have gladly accepted your invitation to attend you here.

“But rather than being exiled to a chilled stone bench aside the lake, we would now be sharing a pleasant afternoon indoors. You and I would be facing off across the chessboard while the two men debated the relative merits of a Cambridge or Oxford education. Darcy finds unassuming and bright men like your Shelley and the Lake Country’s Mr. Wordsworth much to his liking. I could not be happier to know both of you.”

Turning to look up and gaze directly into her friend’s eyes, curiously neither brown nor blue, Lizzy continued firmly, “Lest you think that the irregular nature of your relationship with Shelley could be a barrier to our further society once we four return home, please know that, like my sister Mrs. Benton, I would swiftly remind you of my Lord’s injunction:

“He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…[i]

“For truly, my dear friend, if you shook the Bennet/Darcy family tree hard enough, a curious number of scandals and disreputable individuals would tumble to the ground. I anticipate the day you meet my youngest sister, the Widow Wickham, although her present is in stark contrast to her past.”

Again she paused and turned her eyes back to the lake’s pitching surface.

With a frown creasing her forehead, Elizabeth continued, “It is the nature of Mr. Gordon, Lord Byron, that unsettles me. He disturbs my spirit to the point of disrupting my sleep, what sleep I have been able to enjoy with the bellowing of the wind and the nature of my dreams.”

As Lizzy gathered herself, Godwin could see how much the putative leader of their expedition troubled her.

“I can accept that Miss Clairmont has fallen under his sway. She is seeing at the world through the rainbows of lust-driven love. I do know that look having seen it painted all over many a young woman’s face. I do hope that she will not learn, much as Lady Caroline did, that Byron cares for none but him.

“However the way in which Doctor Polidori fawns all over Byron and lives to please only him recalls to me another of my relatives whose name I will never again speak. My stomach curdles to the point of pain as I watch the Limping Devil[ii] manipulate that boy.”

Elizabeth paused and began to breathe quickly. Mary reached over and rubbed her back. Lizzy’s eyes once again shifted, this time seeking an invisible something on the far shore, just barely a greyish smudge appearing through scudding clouds of spray. General Fitzwilliam could have named her unfocused contemplation, something he had seen on a dozen battlefields: the thousand-yard stare.

Then the older woman continued her soliloquy in a softer voice, one that Godwin strained to hear over the whistling of the wind through the branches of the sheltering trees.

“My dreams have begun again after five years of peace. I remember them from that awful time after the summer of ‘11. Some are longer; some are shorter. They are all fraught with meanings that have much to do with my present, but also hearken to that which is mystifying.

“The reveries are different than before. Now, I am standing on the deck of the oddest ship I have ever seen. There are no sails, just giant stacks, like you see above Mr. Owens’ factories in New Lanark or the great textile mills of Scarborough, belching smoke and soot. I am crossing the sea and the ship is moving fast, but the scenery never changes. There is nothing around me but water.

“Suddenly the ship is surrounded by the most incredible leaping fish. On the back of each is a merman or mermaid, all laughing and singing in celebration. In the midst of this group is one great blue whale. As that giant beast swims sedately and closely to my vessel, the choir stops. Resting on the cetacean’s back is a cradle attended by a mer-lady with grey-blue eyes and corn silk blonde hair streaming unbound down her naked back. She is wearing a countess’ tiara. In the basket rests the sweetest little babe with eyes that reminded me of my Papa. The child smiles at me. The lady lovingly rests a hand on the child’s head.

“Behind me I hear a voice. I turn and apprehend a knight, a young giant with blonde hair that is almost white flowing down from beneath his steely helm. He towers above me. His eyes glow through the slits like the brightest candles, burning clean and bright. He opens his mouth and a giant horn sounds, like the trump at The End of Days. The fingertips of his steel gauntlets crackle with electricity like Mr. Franklin’s kite wire! He claps his metal gloves together and lightening explodes all around us…so bright that my eyes are dazzled.

“When I can see again, I am not on the ship any longer, but rather aboard a strange carriage…odd because we are moving through the streets, but there are no horses. The giant sits separated with his back is to me. A lady of regal bearing sits by my side. She smiles at me. Her red hair and green eyes are so comforting.

“She speaks to me saying, ‘Lizzy, I am Gaia. As the Goddess of this world, I am Mother to all. Have no fear. You and your babe are safe in my love. Trust in the love of your family.’  Then Madame Gaia looks out the carriage’s side window at thousands of flowers drifting across the sky. Her arm reaches out through the glass and she gently swishes her hand mixing the colors of the roses—yes they are roses—yellow, white, red and blush!

“I gaze out into the world full of those roses, and I am flying high above the countryside which is scribed with bands of iron over which a huge monster, also chuffing steam like Mr. Watt’s great engines, drags another carriage. It flies on into the dimming light until it vanishes into the ocean.

“All is dark until a pinprick of light races toward me. There in the center of it is a red hat with a giant red rose. The hat is beautiful, and I reach out to hold it. But, a pair of disembodied grey-blue eyes with a strange cast to them rises above the chapeau. They are the same as the mer-lady’s. They blink, slowly, clearly saying This is not for you.

“Then my ears are filled with the sounds of a thousand bees buzzing. And I feel like I am being squeezed until I am going to pop. At that moment, I always awaken.”

With that last revelation, Elizabeth subsided, seeming to shrink inside of her woolens. Mary looked up to see Mrs. Darcy’s lady’s maid, Sloane, hurrying across the lawn to help her mistress having observed her slumping against Miss Godwin.

Elizabeth cried off dinner that evening pleading a headache. Mr. Darcy came down to give brief regrets to the others. He then repaired back to their chamber to share his wife’s simple meal of a rich chicken soup filled with thick spätzle and fresh vegetables with clumps of yellow schmaltz bobbing atop the shimmering surface.

The absence of the Darcys threw Byron into a funk for his usual reasons: he measured his success by the size of the crowd he could enthrall.

After the meal, he commanded the parlor while standing alone next to the crackling blaze which pushed the unseasonal chill back into the corners of the room. He looked across the room at Godwin and Shelley in their regular pas de deux. Polidori hovered near his master just off the marble mantle, and Claire was playing something new from Herr Beethoven on the pianoforte. How pedestrian they had become, acting out the script of propriety and “gentle” behavior.

This would never do…not for the infamous Lord Byron…let alone Percy Bysshe Shelley and his paramour! And so he pondered. Until…

An idea struck him…something truly original and frighteningly brilliant!

He called out to the lovers, “I say, Shelley…Miss Godwin…that ghost story you read to us yesterday after dinner, what was it?  Oh yes, The History of the Inconstant Lover. Do you not agree that we could write something better?

“What say you? Polidori, do you think you could somehow forget your puerile attempt at a stage play with which you bedeviled us last year? Shelley? Miss Godwin? Pr’aps you could put something together. Then we could make a night of it. A bit like old Boccaccio and his Decameron.

“It would give us all something to do in the face of this infernal weather.”

All agreed, some more readily than others, and then the party moved on to other, more suitable fodder for conversation for the rest of the evening.

 

[i] The Bible, King James Version, The Gospel According to St. John, Ch. 8:7.

[ii] Byron’s nickname so applied because of a clubfoot. http://www.facts-about.org.uk/famous-people-facts-starting-with-l/lord-byron.htm accessed 9/10/17.

And before any of you, dear readers, freak out over the shortness of this novella, just as I did, I can assure you that another is in the progress! Don is already writing it, as we speak! And it is destined for publication in DECEMBER! This December 2017, dear readers! So you won’t have to do without your Bennet Wardrobe story for long, yay! Cheers for Don, right guys?

Fin, see you when I see you dear readers *winks*

 

Book Tour of “These Dreams” by Nicole Clarkston

“These Dreams” is a haunting, soul wrenching and heartwarming dream of a book, which gives the reader the idea that two souls are bound in more ways than one.” – Sophia Thorsen

TD Horiz Blog Tour BannerM

Book Blurb:

An abandoned bride

A missing man

And a dream that refuses to die…

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. 

An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn – alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever; she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

Nicole had this to say of her new book;

This scene is the first in the book where Elizabeth “sees” Darcy. Her longing for him is so intense, and her guilt over what she perceives as her role in his “death” is so overpowering, that one small triggered memory explodes upon her senses. She has already shared some empathic bond, which she cannot understand, but in this scene we see her transported, for just a moment, to a real conversation with him. The moment leaves her reeling and discomposed, as well as even more heartbroken for the many ways she had misunderstood him. As a writer, I have already planned out how the story will unfold. As a consequence, I am often less affected by the emotion of a scene than a reader experiencing it for the first time. I do find, however, that for some of these intense scenes of grief and heartbreak that I had to almost method act my way through them. If I wasn’t grieving myself, my writing lost its authenticity. There were several days when I had to stop writing scenes like this because I was just in too good of a mood. I had to feel Elizabeth’s devastation and guilt, and I had to experience Darcy’s hopelessness and solitude, in order to capture those feelings with any semblance of fidelity to the characters.

You may also notice that this scene bears a strong resemblance to Janet Taylor’s gorgeous cover. She found that cover before I even had the scene written, although I had it planned in my mind. It absolutely gave me shivers to see it! There are two more “tree” scenes later in the book, and they, too, were already planned when she found this. I can only call it serendipity! I hope you enjoy this excerpt. ~NC

Nicole was nice enough to let us see a scene from the book; I will warn you, you’ll need a handkerchief and maybe a cup of tea AFTERWARDS! Because if you drink while reading this scene, you’ll regret it… I did *smiles sheepishly*

December, 1813

Longbourn                                                                       

November passed, and with it the still, pleasant days of the long autumn. Deep winter dawned one morning with a vengeance, just as the residents of Longbourn fell under the pall of Lydia’s new circumstances. Elizabeth had not, after all, gone to London, for she felt her presence more sorely wanted now than ever by her youngest sister. She was the only remaining Bennet sister who felt thus, for Kitty and Mary had distanced themselves even farther from their wayward younger sibling—Mary, out of perceived righteousness, and Kitty, out of boredom.

Mrs Bennet’s nerves distressed her greatly during this time, for she worried now whether Lydia ought to risk the expected journey to Newcastle and her husband’s regiment. It was not to be attempted by coach, surely, but she felt it irregular in the extreme that Lydia should birth her child in the home of her girlhood before Mr Wickham had sent for her. “How everyone will talk!” she was often heard to lament. “Why, they will carry on as if you had no husband at all! Mrs Long will gossip so, and those Lucases cannot remain silent either. Lydia, my love, do take care not to leave your ring in your jewelry box when we have callers, and do not let it turn over so that the diamond cannot be seen! Such a fine ring it is. Surely no penniless soldier could have purchased it. They must see that!”

Mr Bennet, when he was present for these expressions of motherly concern, was known simply to roll his eyes and raise his paper yet higher. Within a few more sentences from his wife, he would invariably snort his derision and stalk to the privacy of his library—often not sparing a word even for Elizabeth as he passed.

For her part, Elizabeth was desperate to divert her sister. Lydia’s secret was no longer a private matter, but Elizabeth remained unconvinced that the girl would not still attempt to do herself harm. Lydia spoke the proper words of humility and resignation, but that rebellious streak that had previously caused her such great trouble was still very much a part of her character. It was evident in her eyes—a certain hardness that would not yet surrender. Whether she meant to work it for her own restoration or instead, it would prove her undoing remained uncertain.

As a consequence, Elizabeth seldom left Lydia’s side. She exerted all her considerable charm and wit to draw out the girl from her self-imposed solitude, and many an afternoon found them engaged in needlework or, more commonly, discordant duets at the pianoforte. These did little to improve Lydia’s skill, but much to lighten her moods.

A month’s time saw a minuscule improvement in Lydia’s spirits, but by mid-December, Elizabeth’s reserves of fortitude had paid a harsh toll. Her only escapes were those afternoons when she could consign the guardianship of her sister to Mrs Hill—for, as Mrs Bennet counseled, Lydia must be properly trained to manage her husband’s household when he sent for her, and surely an officer as distinguished as Mr Wickham would require a wife of the utmost sophistication and capability.

It was on these days when Elizabeth began walking regularly to Netherfield, bundled against the wind and rain. It was a restorative balm to her soul, sitting quietly for a time with Jane and even the kind Mr Bingley. Still, no matter the insistence of the application by her host and hostess, she could never be persuaded to take a room for the night. She often, however, availed herself of Jane’s new carriage when the weather had grown unpromising for a return walk.

This crisp afternoon held no rain, so Elizabeth bade her sister an affectionate farewell at the door. She deliberately did not see the worried looks exchanged by husband and wife as she turned down the steps, nor could she have known that, at a nod from Jane, Mr Bingley would summon one of his stable hands to unobtrusively follow her home to ensure her safety. She desired the solitude and the freedom of setting her own meandering pace, not intending to arrive again at Longbourn until nearly dusk.

She set out along an indirect way, one she had admired the previous year during her short residence at the house. It began near the manicured hedges and soon narrowed to a half-groomed path among the trees, leading down to a long grassy bank along the stream. The trail followed the water some way before turning back through an orchard, and finally, to the fields that bordered Longbourn. It was an isolated route, resplendent with the silver of impending frost and shrouded in a bower of blessed silence.

Elizabeth stopped as she neared the stream. This was her favourite scene along the route, where the shallows bubbled and coursed over the rocks and an old willow spread her bare branches over a little log bridge across the waters… and it was where she had once interrupted Mr Darcy’s silent reverie.

He had been leaning against that very tree, his tall frame only slightly off-balance as he stretched a long arm through the hanging branches to the trunk. His head had been bowed, seemingly lost in some private thought, until he heard her approach.

“Miss Bennet!” had cried he. He had then clamped his lips, as though fearful to speak another word.

Elizabeth had braced her shoulders then responded with a measured, “Mr Darcy,” followed by a short curtsey.

He had dropped his hand from the tree, casting about for some polite subject. “It is a fine day for walking,” he had offered—had there been some little eagerness in his tone?

“It is indeed, sir. This path is a favourite of mine. I beg you would excuse me for disturbing your solitude.” She had shifted her weight, preparing to walk on.

“It is no disturbance, Miss Bennet,” he had replied quickly. “I was about to return to the house.” His eyes had brightened, and she distinctly remembered a nervous swallow. Had he been about to offer to escort her?

“I am gratified to know that I do not trouble you, sir,” she had smiled archly. “I have only begun my constitutional, and so I shall bid you a good afternoon.”

“Do you ever ride, Miss Bennet?” he had interjected just as she was turning away.

Elizabeth had paused to study him curiously. Why should he have cared whether she ever rode? “I am perfectly capable of riding, sir, but I do not find it a terribly relaxing means of exercise.”

“No, but it need not always be relaxing. Rather, I should have thought one such as yourself might find it exhilarating. Have you never tried a fence?” His eyes had swept—very lightly—over her figure then, as though mentally evaluating her athletic prowess and suiting her with an appropriate mount and sidesaddle.

“No, sir. Horses tend to have a will of their own. As my own mind is quite determined to have its way, I do not like to think of matching my strength against that of a creature ten times my size.”

He had smiled then, and it had been the first time she had observed the small dimple in his cheek. Oh, that smile she remembered so well! The rare one, reserved only for quiet moments when… when he saw an opportunity to match wits. “It is not the power of the body, but the strength of the mind that determines a rider’s success. I believe yours to be one of remarkable tenacity, and I hope you will forgive the assumption that you enjoyed equestrian pursuits. Have you had some frightening experience?”

“I have been frustrated, and on more than one occasion. My own feet do not disobey me so readily as my father’s old hunter.”

Some spark had come to his eye then, and though his features had not moved, there had been a distinct light of humour to his countenance. Had he been mocking her, or… or flirting? “I trust, Miss Bennet, that should you ever undertake the enterprise with the whole force of your natural will, you shall meet with success.”

Elizabeth had felt a scowl spreading from her lips. “That is hardly a gentlemanly speech, sir. I cannot know whether you mean to compliment me, or call me willful.”

He had appeared shocked, either at her saucy retort or at the audacity of his own words. “I meant no offence, Miss Bennet. It was only an observation borne out by what I know of your character. You do not shrink from a challenge, and horsemanship can prove a valuable skill for a young lady. It seems likely that one day you will assume the weight of duties that will nearly demand such an accomplishment of you.” Had he been implying that she would one day be mistress of a larger estate than Longbourn?

“I thank you for your concern, sir. Should I ever find myself in need of an instructor to improve my riding, I shall not hesitate to seek your advice. For today, I prefer two feet to four.” She had glanced pointedly at Mr Darcy’s own feet then, just as he shifted one of them in her direction. Oh, mercy, he had been about to walk on with her! How could she have been so indifferent to his intentions?

He had stiffened noticeably. “Until dinner then, Miss Bennet. I wish you a pleasant outing.”

Elizabeth now braced against that very tree, gasping in horror. How sternly she had rebuffed his first overtures of friendship! Many other occasions of their early acquaintance had played again and again through her mind, but that first private talk had been nearly forgotten. How could she have missed his good opinion, shining in every uncomfortable syllable and pouring from his hesitant expression? Oh, dear heavens, he loved me even then!

She turned into the tree, bracing her arm against the cold bark and burrowing under it. Disgust with herself coupled with redoubled sorrow that she had deliberately misunderstood his meanings at nearly every encounter. Had she only been more reasonable, perhaps their brief, explosive acquaintance could have instead been one of mutual amity. Perhaps she might have perceived his unmerited passion, kept so viciously in check, and have understood the torment he sustained in determining not to offer for her. And perhaps… perhaps when he did at last succumb, she would have answered his ardent plea with gentleness, rather than indignation.

Four months they might have had together! So brief—what couple can truly form into one spirit in such a short span? Yet what would she have given to know him only a little better! To feel his lips brush her hair, just once—to hear him murmur lovingly, “My dearest, loveliest Elizabeth.”

A moan escaped her, a nearly inhuman cry of anguish as she crushed her face into the bark. If only she could substitute the physical pain of clasping that tree with all her strength for the wrenching suffering of her regrets! Yet it was not her own sorrow and loss that darkened her heart, but the certain knowledge that he had left this world believing she did not—never would! —care for him. The pain she had caused him could never be erased, and he had met his death never once hearing a tender word from her.

Four months she could have held him before that black day in August… But no! Had he been assured of her love, with her family in sufficient awe of his formidable approval, Lydia might never have been permitted to make that ill-fated journey! No dark errand might have then summoned him to the rotting underbelly of London, and no violent attack could have stricken him. It is all my own fault!

She beat her head mercilessly into the cold bark, almost wishing her brow would begin to bleed. Such an injury might at last bring atoning relief! Blood—Darcy’s blood—was no less on her hands than of those who raised their fists against him, and never could she be absolved. No court in the world would convict her, but what of poor Georgiana Darcy, if she knew all? Could she smile upon Elizabeth Bennet, the woman her brother had given his life to please, and hold her blameless? Certainly not! Because of her own pride and resentment, the best man in the world now lay cold in the crypt of his fathers.

She remained there, clutching the trunk of that unyielding old willow, until her fingers grew numb with the chill. Sighing deeply, she at last stepped back and looked once more on that hallowed ground where he had once stood. The grass, the leaves, even the lively brook were now muted. All was shriveled and dying in the ruthless grip of winter. Could her heart not similarly freeze? For a few months at least, could her love not slumber so she might know some measure of rest?

Oh, but even if the gift of merciful oblivion were offered her, she could never choose it. Elizabeth’s eyes scanned up the barren tree to the dwindling glow of the frost-obscured sun. To forget the pain of losing Darcy would be to grow insensible to her own conviction that there could never be another like him. Not for any inducement would she sacrifice the joy of being loved by one such as he, even for some relief from her sorrow. She would cling to that knowledge, that once she had been loved and loved in return, and it had wrought a tenderness and a beauty in her that left her forever marked by its passing. She would content herself—she must! —for the power of this love must suffice for a lifetime.

Elizabeth clutched a hand to her chest, wishing to seize that ache and to never let it go, for it was now her only token of him. I will always belong to you! She vowed silently. Never will another touch my heart, for you took it with you.

Her mouth worked frantically as she made her resolution, desperate to avoid another wild outcry of anguish into the woods. None should know of her sorrow—it was hers to bear willingly and alone. Trembling, she dashed the cold tears from her cheeks. Then she turned quietly and resumed her solitary march to Longbourn.

WARNING ⚠ As you can read dear readers, handkerchiefs are definitely going to be needed for this book!

But I will admit that the book turned out to be a favourite and a kindred spirit. And personally, I cannot wait for the next book!

Review by Sophia Thorsen;

At first I was worried about the premise of the book, but quickly it turned so very intriguing and I thought it was sooo strongly written, so very strong and heartfelt.

Personally I think you would have to be heartless if you don’t feel Elizabeth’s pain, heartache, despair, hope and love throughout the book. My heart broke to pieces more than once, during the read, and I will admit to a close call on a fainting spell at a certain point in the book! I will warn that very tender and heartbreaking scenes will appear between ch8-10!

I was extremely pleased with the way, Nicole, wrote this book and how much she allowed us to see of Colonel Fitzwilliam and Georgiana during the book, and even the Matlock’s appeared more than once. Colonel Fitzwilliam, really grew on me during this book, especially how he grew as a character, throughout the book, and with his bachelor status in danger from an old flame, will he remain a bachelor or will he allow his heart to rule him for once? Or will he let old prejudices stand in his way again?

The themes of the book goes largely on patriotism, loyalty, pride and love and something even deeper; hope and determination. Elizabeth and Darcy are bound together, through their souls in ways deeper than marriage, something that allows them both to survive and keep their love as intense as it ever could have been, had they been married.

Though I wanted to kick Lady Catherine’s ass more than once during the book, as she was an interfering b****! But the character which surprised me the most was Lydia Wickham need Bennet, she had a very strong development throughout the book, especially after her arrival to Pemberley! Though someone else surprised me by the end of the book, and for once Wickham surprised me enough to think that he MIGHT be redeemed after all. But … who knows! *shrugs*

But I promise there is a very HAPPY ending by the end of this heartfelt and heartbreaking read, dear readers!

Nicole ClarkstonAuthor Bio:

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, an N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became bestselling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Nicole was recently invited to join Austenvariations.com, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at http://fb.me/NicoleClarkstonAuthor, Twitter @N_Clarkston, her blog at Goodreads.com, or her personal blog and website, NicoleClarkson.com.

Contact Info: (Link is embedded in the name)

Website

Goodreads Author Page

Goodreads Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

Buy Links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Buy Links for Nicole’s other books:

CreateSpace:

Rumours & Recklessness

No Such Thing as Luck

Northern Rain

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner

Amazon:

The Courtship of Edward Gardiner

Northern Rain

No Such Thing as Luck

Rumours & Recklessness

Annnnnnnd now dear readers, we finally come to the Giveaway opportunity:

The giveaway will consist of 10 eBooks and is international.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b14/

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. Remember: Tweet and comment once daily to earn extra entries.

A winner may win ONLY 1 (ONE) eBook of These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international.

And that dear readers was that for now! But please leave a comment below won’t you? And go and buy the book, you WON’T regret it!

See you when I see you guys *winks*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jane Austen Festival 2017

Once again the trees turned yellow, and the calendar with yummy Captain Wentworth told me it was September again, and that month, many of us relate to only 1 thing: the annual Jane Austen festival in Bath, U.K. Well besides a delayed flight, I arrived in London and quickly onto a west going train towards Bath.

The sandstone houses are the first hint of Bath you see, as you turn the last corner towards Bath Spa station, coming in on the train, my stomach was making somersaults in nervousness and anticipation of once more being back in my beloved Bath.

Got off the train and met up with Elaine, we went and got redressed in our regency finery, and waited for Emma, Cati and Christin. While waiting I met up with Cassandra Grafton, at the unique and still ancient Pump Rooms. Cass was a darling and got some things for me from the Fayre, including a copy of “The Guide to Jane Austen’s England” which I presented on my blog a few months back, and the new Jane Austen 10 pound note and as a surprise Mr Darcy’s Quest bookmark!

And of course it started to rain, but soon my friends and I were all together again, and ready for fun and games! We checked out our apartment, which ended up being really nice with a big living/sleeping/kitchen room, a bedroom and a bathroom so we were installed and got food from Sainsbury’s as we were all tired and ready to drop.

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Saturday dawned and we got up and got ready for regency fun, I dressed in my chemise and white gown decorated with blue flowers, we went around town, got photographed a thousand times or so, most without as much as a by your leave. But we enjoyed ourselves, went to the talk with Professor John Mullan, who spoke of Northanger Abbey, which Cass Grafton also attended,

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Then we were off for lunch at Sally Lunn’s where we were joined by my new acquaintance Robin, and our longtime friends Sarah and David. It was a really nice lunch, especially as I had never been there before. Sally Lunn’s is also the oldest restaurant in Bath, dating from 1482 or so.

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After a walk around the town, Putney Bridge, JA centre, and the Royal Crescent we walked back to the apartment via the gravel walk where Wentworth and Anne walked together. We were though caught in a rather viscous rain shower on the way back, while my inner author sketched out a romantic scene taking place on the gravel walk between a couple of my own creation. We also walked to the Parade Gardens to view the annual Austen plant item, which this year showcased a book. I was in my red Redingote and bergere, and the weather was dry so I couldn’t have been happier.

Birthday presents were given to Cati, Emma and I were quite surprised at getting some as well, an embroidered bookmark (spelling; Gryffindor) from Elaine, a bag (a Gryffindor/Hogwarts bag) from Emma and a necklace from Edinburgh from Christin, which I had admired back in March.

Soon we were all dressed in ball clothes; chemises, dresses and hair were dressed and makeup was put on. Emma did a fantastic job of doing all of our hairs, so we looked like a million pounds each! I was in my white ball gown and new jewels from Guildhall.

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We made our way to the assembly rooms, and when we were around a few minutes from the rooms, we got caught in a heavy rainstorm. When we arrived we were wet and I was see-through. Most ladies went straight to the ladies room, to get dresses and shoes dry after the rain. After around 30 minutes, dresses and shoes were dry, drinks were bought and dancing commenced. I shared two dances with my dear sister but otherwise, I danced with old acquaintances which were so pleasurable, especially as they are always very nice and experienced. The girls and I had an amazing evening, laughed and danced – I was called Lydia since I danced every dance during the evening! Well if that is all it takes, then I’m guilty as charged!

Sunday dawned, too soon for my taste as per usual; we packed our bags and the car before we made our way to the Pump Rooms, where I had reserved a table for breakfast. After breaking our fast, of English breakfast, crossaint, pancakes and the like, and since it was the Pump Rooms, we took the waters, which tasted like hot water with a really bad aftertaste *shudders*

We went shopping for the last things, including posters, books and other knick-knacks, then back to the car with the items so we didn’t have to carry them at the promenade, and finally back to the Abbey for the mini promenade. As people appeared, photos were taken, shared and outfits admired and envied. Email addresses were exchanged so contact could remain during the coming year.

After the promenade, where the ladies came in all from riding gowns, to walking dresses to elaborate gowns, capes and muffs due to the coldness of the weather, while the gentlemen came in either their long trousers or knee breeches, shirts and their coats, walking canes and top hats. After a little talking, one million pictures, my friends and I said goodbye to people to make our way to LHR and Stanstead airports. Sad, after only 48-50 hours! But as always it was good fun and wonderful being back with those four crazy and funny friends of mine! I can’t wait for more!